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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 32-34

Assessment of Self-directed Learning Sessions: Approaches, Challenges, and Strategies to Overcome the Challenges


1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth—Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth—Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission11-Jan-2022
Date of Acceptance15-Feb-2022
Date of Web Publication8-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV)—Deemed to be University, Thiruporur–Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District 603108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/AMJM.AMJM_6_22

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  Abstract 

Considering the changing dynamics in the field of medicine and the expectations of the community from the healthcare professionals, it is an indispensable need that all medical professionals strive to become better. As a matter of fact, being adult learners, medical students have to devise their own strategy to attain the expected competencies, and this essentially requires the inclusion of self-directed learning (SDL). SDL plays an important role in the making of a lifelong learner and thus lays down the seed for a successful medical practitioner. The need of the hour is to plan assessments for topics allocated to SDL, which will ensure that medical students start taking these topics seriously. These planned assessments can be carried out either as self-assessment or peer assessment or by the involvement of teachers. In conclusion, SDL is an important aspect of undergraduate training, and its importance or benefits derived from it can be significantly enhanced by supplementing the same with assessments. Even though the assessment of SDL is a challenging task, but with proper planning and teamwork, we can benefit the students and thereby aid them in the process to attain the desired competencies.

Keywords: Assessment, medical education, self-directed learning


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Assessment of Self-directed Learning Sessions: Approaches, Challenges, and Strategies to Overcome the Challenges. Amrita J Med 2022;18:32-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Assessment of Self-directed Learning Sessions: Approaches, Challenges, and Strategies to Overcome the Challenges. Amrita J Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Nov 29];18:32-4. Available from: https://ajmonline.org.in/text.asp?2022/18/1/32/344951




  Introduction Top


Considering the changing dynamics in the field of medicine and the expectations of the community from the healthcare professionals, it is an indispensable need that all medical professionals strive to become better and adopt strategies to learn new things.[1] During the period of undergraduate training, a medical student is expected to acquire a wide range of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, non-cognitive attributes, etc., all of which cannot be instilled into them by the medical teachers. As a matter of fact, being adult learners, medical students have to devise their own strategy to attain the expected competencies, and this essentially requires the inclusion of self-directed learning (SDL).[1]


  Self-directed Learning Top


In the field of medical education, SDL refers to the ability of a student to take steps to ascertain their learning needs, define learning goals, identify the learning resources, and subsequently evaluate their learning.[1],[2] The SDL sessions can be planned for both core and non-core competencies by the faculty members with an intention to strengthen the attainment of the learning outcomes.[2] SDL plays an important role in the making of a lifelong learner, which in turn determines their desire to learn even after completion of their studies, and thus lays down the seed for a successful medical practitioner.[2] Acknowledging the importance of SDL, the regulatory body recommended for the first time inclusion of a specific number of teaching hours in each phase of the undergraduate curriculum in India. This is an important step and now it is the responsibility of the curriculum planners to utilize this opportunity in the best interest of medical students for improving the healthcare delivery today and for the future. It has been proposed that 5–10% of the overall teaching hours can be allotted for SDL in the schedule.


  Readiness of Students and Tools for SDL Assessment Top


We must accept the fact that some of the students take SDL seriously and give due attention to the topics earmarked for the same. At the same time, there is another extreme of students who equate SDL to free time and do not indulge in reading; nevertheless, the majority of them are in between somewhere and just need some kind of push to give their best.[2],[3],[4] There arises the need to plan assessments for topics allocated to SDL, which in turn becomes the driving force for the medical students to take these topics seriously.[3],[4] The planned assessment can be carried out using any of the following ways (either in isolation or in combination): in the form of a quiz, multiple choice questions, discussion, objective structured clinical/practical examinations, logbook/portfolio maintenance, assignments, etc.[1],[2],[4]


  Modes of SDL Assessment Top


These planned assessments can be carried out either as self-assessment or peer assessment or by the involvement of teachers.[5] In the case of self-assessment, students themselves monitor their learning progression, evaluate their learning, and based on that take remedial measures to improve upon and eventually attain the competency.[5] Peer assessment refers to the process wherein students rate the performance of their peers against the pre-defined criteria. As they are from the same cohort, their interaction with each other is much better due to the given feedback, and simultaneously they learn the art of teamwork.[3],[4],[5] The assessments carried out by teachers are aimed toward determining the knowledge and skills pertaining to the assigned topic and accordingly encouraging/guiding students to become better in the areas that need more attention. All these assessments also play an important role in encouraging the students to reflect upon and transform them to become a reflective practitioner.[4],[5],[6]


  SDL Assessment: Potential Challenges Top


We do acknowledge the importance of assessment of SDL sessions, but the process has its own challenges ranging from lack of sensitization of faculty members about how to plan to assess these sessions, setting the criteria for assessment, deciding about the frequency of assessments (that too in an already packed teaching schedule), and selection of appropriate tools and methods of SDL assessment.[3],[7] In addition, there is contribution from all faculty members in the process, as it is a tedious task for one or two faculty members to supervise the entire assessment process. Further, the process of assessing complex SDL topics is also a potential challenge for the department colleagues.[2],[4]

Moreover, it is a little tricky to grade levels of student competence in SDL during the assessments, as there are no specific expected levels. In addition, as already mentioned, the task of setting criteria in the form of making rubrics to eventually grade student performance is a time- and resource-intensive process and requires loads of inputs.[2],[3],[4] We must realize that the approach of self-assessment has its own limitations like a student might either underestimate or overestimate their individual accomplishments.[5],[6] On a similar note, even in the case of peer assessment, the way in which a student grades their peer performance might be a biased one, once they become aware that their own performance will be judged by their peers. Further, it is also essential to manage time, and maintaining proper communication between and within the departments is also extremely crucial to not only plan and conduct but even assess SDL sessions.[5],[6],[7]


  Strategies to Overcome the Potential Challenges Top


The first and foremost thing in the success of either planning or assessing an SDL session lies in the faculty development programs targeted toward sensitizing and orienting the teachers about the need, scope, and ways to organize an SDL session.[6],[7] This has to be followed by ascertaining the SDL readiness among students and ensuring that they are also in the team, and this can happen by explaining to them the importance of SDL sessions and including assessments (covering topics assigned for SDL sessions).[4],[5],[6] This has to be followed by an utmost collaboration between various colleagues in the department and as a team, the department should decide about the SDL topics, scheduling of sessions, mode of assessment, methods of assessment, formulation of rubrics, etc.[6],[7]

SDL can happen in a wide range of settings, including problem-based learning, and the students can be assessed by the teachers in terms of their confidence, the extent of involvement in the discussion, and the preparedness with which they have come to the session.[1],[2] The challenges linked to peer or self-assessment can be easily overcome by setting precise rubrics of assessments and sharing the same with the students.[2],[3] We should not forget that the idea of assessment is not only to assess how much a student knows but also to provide them with constructive feedback to let students know what went well and the areas which require further improvement. This will eventually aid students to not only become better but also to be actively involved in SDL sessions.[4],[5],[6]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, SDL is an important aspect of undergraduate training, and its importance or benefits derived from it can be significantly enhanced by supplementing the same with assessments. Even though the assessment of SDL is a challenging task, but with proper planning and teamwork, we can benefit the students and thereby aid them in the process to attain the desired competencies.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Patra S, Khan AM, Upadhyay MK, Sharma R, Rajoura OP, Bhasin SK. Module to facilitate self-directed learning among medical undergraduates: Development and implementation. J Educ Health Promot 2020;9:231.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Röcker N, Lottspeich C, Braun LT, Lenzer B, Frey J, Fischer MR, et al. Implementation of self-directed learning within clinical clerkships. GMS J Med Educ 2021;38:Doc43.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Encouraging medical students to become self-directed learners through conduction of small-group learning sessions. J Nat Sci Med 2021;4:90-1.  Back to cited text no. 3
  [Full text]  
4.
Ghosh P, Jacob J, Goldman E, Manikoth N. Optimizing the use of an online self-assessment exam to promote self-directed learning behaviors in medical students. Med Sci Educ 2020;30:81-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Violato C, Lockyer J. Self and peer assessment of pediatricians, psychiatrists and medicine specialists: Implications for self-directed learning. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2006;11:235-44.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Smythe G, Hughes D. Self-directed learning in gross human anatomy: Assessment outcomes and student perceptions. Anat Sci Educ 2008;1:145-53.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Sahoo S. Finding self-directed learning readiness and fostering self-directed learning through weekly assessment of self-directed learning topics during undergraduate clinical training in ophthalmology. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2016;6:166-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
    




 

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  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
Self-directed Le...
Readiness of Stu...
Modes of SDL Ass...
SDL Assessment: ...
Strategies to Ov...
Conclusion
References

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